Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Babywearing Triplets: Feeding in a Carrier

Baby carriers are great tools for bonding with your baby and maintaining your busy life while meeting your baby’s needs. This is especially true when feeding our babies. Whatever your circumstances, a baby carrier can be helpful when your baby starts to let out those hunger cries! 

Many moms choose to nurse their babies. With a little practice it can be easy to nurse your child discreetly in a baby carrier. Any carrier can be adjusted for a baby to nurse in; however I find two shouldered carriers tend to be the easiest. As a new mom I often used a stretchy wrap because I could easily wiggle the wrap down a little and let my child nurse. The amount mom needs to wiggle the wrap is dependent, of course, on how well endowed mom is! The more blessed you are, the more you may need to wiggle.  If you are wearing a mei tai you can easily loosen the straps to lower baby down to nursing level. I often used an oversized sun hat on my baby to completely cover us from any peering eyes if I was in a public place and no one ever seemed to notice.

For many reasons, some moms use a supplemental nursing system. This can be useful for brief periods of times for small nursing problems, or for long periods of time for other situations, such as adoptive parents, babies with more serious feeding difficulties, or moms of multiples. Basically, a supplemental feeding system allows the baby to nurse while receiving extra nutrition. When using the supplemental feeding system I like to adjust my carrier slightly to the left or right so that the baby’s head is not in the middle of my chest where the feeding system rests. That way he or she does not knock into the supplemental feeder. Also, if you have an older baby, you will find that they love to grab the tubes of the feeder. I try to keep my babies’ arms at their sides when I put them in the carrier to nurse. That way it is harder for them to grab the tubes and rip them off. Otherwise, simply adjust for nursing and go!

Of course, not everyone nurses and many moms use bottles. When we first started using bottles I was surprised by how much more inconvenient they are than nursing. I had to hold baby in one hand and the bottle in the other hand which left me no free hands for eating, gesturing at my older children, or for posting on Facebook! I found it easy to put my babies in a carrier to bottle feed and to then have one or two hands free. To bottle feed, place your baby in a carrier and lower him or her just enough to give space for the bottle. If I am holding the bottle I find it most comfortable to place my hand underneath and up into the carrier to hold the bottle. To go hands free I give just enough slack that the bottle can lean on my chest while my baby is eating. It simulates nursing well and we can gaze into each other’s eyes, or I can wipe Orajel off of my 3 year old’s face, or assist my 6 year old in researching the state flower of Virginia.
Most importantly there are many ways we can feed our babies in a loving way and still accomplish all the tasks we need to throughout our day. Do try this at home, or better yet, stop by one of our fabulous babywearing meetings for demonstrations and assistance.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Postcard from Florida: We had a Blast (Off)!

 Today we have a guest blogger, one of our members who has moved to Florida, shares with us some family babywearing fun!

As a military family, we move quite a bit. Home is where the Air Force sends us. While this presents many challenges, there are also advantages. One is that we are "local" to all sorts of new to us attractions and events every few years. One opportunity we did NOT want to miss while in Florida was the launch of a Space Shuttle. Endeavor was our first and only chance to do that. But when one of your littles is an itty bitty, travel and big events get complicated. So here is my countdown of the reasons you need to babywear for launch day, and at other big events.

10 - Crowd Control: Holy smokes are there a LOT of people at these things. Even if you could navigate a baby-in-stroller through the mass of humanity, you would not have your hands free to hold on to the other little people. That's assuming your stroller rider is content in the stroller. Often crowds frighten or overwhelm our littlest ones, and you end up carrying the baby anyway. Wearing one or more of your little ones helps keep everyone close by and accounted for.
9. Other stuff. Because of the crowds, all the extra traffic, and the security measures, you need to get to your viewing spot early. We spent a couple hours at our spot prior to launch. You do not want to try and keep kids (and kids at heart) entertained with just what you have in a diaper bag. With the baby in a carrier, you have more flexibility to bring 'stuff' for everyone: snacks, games, toys, etc.

8. Alligators. No, I'm not kidding. Yes, that bumpy log in the water there IS, in fact, an rather healthy sized alligator. Okay, so most events, and even most places you would watch a rocket launch, don't have large prehistoric holdover reptiles lurking the depths. Even those that do pose little danger, especially if you can keep one or more of your small people attached and easily accounted for. There are unique concerns for safety at any event that you need to navigate, so adding a carrier to your list of things to help is one way to do that.

7. Change of plans. You probably noticed that there was a change of clothing somewhere here. No, we did not try to swim with Mr. Gator. Our first attempt to see the launch ended with the launch being scrubbed due to technical malfunctions. Schlepping back to your vehicle with kids in a carrier makes a quicker process. It also helps sooth those older babies and toddlers, who are no doubt disappointed that plans have changed. You can also switch out launch stuff for the other stuff in your car that you brought 'just in case' you had some extra time on your hands. All that beach gear came in handy!

6. House of Mouse. You've traveled all this way. Why not check out some of the other local kid focused attractions while visiting? There's Sea World, Universal, Busch Gardens, and this other really huge park, the name escapes me at the moment, all in the the same region as Cape Canaveral. You SO want a carrier for these places. The crowds are insane and much of the transportation is not particularly stroller friendly.

5. Keep walking. Okay, so you may be thinking "yeah, I can see how the stroller would be a pain, but I can just carry the baby." I hope you have strong arms! For a variety of reasons, you are probably going to have to leave your car somewhere a good hike away from where you camp out for viewing (or any other activity you participate in while visiting the area). Fifteen pounds (or twenty, or thirty...) gets real heavy after a couple of blocks. Pop baby in a carrier on your back, front, or hip and you are going to be much more comfortable.

4. The dreaded car seat. So I've mentioned the crowds, right? Well all those people did not just get beamed up, apparate, or use a port key. They drove. So did you. Which means your wee one just spent a whole bunch of time safely strapped into the properly installed car seat, and will soon be spending a whole bunch more time there as you sit in bumper to bumper traffic. Adding a bunch of stroller time to that will leave baby feeling disconnected. A carrier lets your little people feel close, cuddled, and attached.

3. You put the baby where, exactly? Now of course you brought a nice big beach blanket for the kids, and chairs. So everyone would be comfortable. And your older kids commandeer a chair and the blanket, because they are "freezing" in the 65 degree weather that was not predicted when you packed for your trip. So baby stays warm and cozy in the carrier. So do you, bonus! You can even use it to set the little one down on the ground when it warms up and have a few extra milliseconds before they eat grass and dirt.

2. Lights, camera, action! You brought your camera right?  Or, in our case, camera-two-smart-phones-and-
video-recorder-with-tripod. You will be needing at least one free hand to operate that stuff. When it goes, it goes fast, and you can't be fumbling with half of one arm. Of course, even us experienced babywearers mess this one up. I had the baby on my hip in a ring sling since I *thought* he would fall asleep nursing. No such luck, and his 'help' with the still camera means we did not get a good shot of the launch. My husband got some great video though!

1. It's loud. It's really really loud. The actual launch finally arrives. Five minutes, two, one. Excitement ripples physically through the crowd. Everyone counts out loud, together: Ten. Nine. Eight. Seven. Six. Five. Four. Three. Two. ONE!!! For a moment or two, nothing. Then the light show starts, though distance makes this part more manageable for little ones. Smoke everywhere, then fire. And then this beautiful spacecraft rises up into the heavens. The crowd cheers. Depending on how far away you are, the launch sound lags behind. Engine roar is followed by sonic booms as the craft races away from the Earth. It can be a whole lot for a little one. But safe and secure in a carrier, they often take it in stride.

We were fortunate enough to be there and wish Endeavour Godspeed on its very last mission to space. Babywearing made that once in a lifetime adventure with three small children a grand and exciting time. Wear your baby, go have an adventure or three. The memories will last a lifetime.

Posted by Amy

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Babywearing Triplets: Forward Facing

When talking with babywearers the phrase “forward facing” can cause instant controversy. For many people who do not wear their children, or only do so on a limited basis, forward facing may seem completely normal. After all, one of the most commonly seen, and registered for carriers, is the Baby Bjorn which is usually shown forward facing. What would be the problem? Many experienced babywearers  have concerns over carrying children in a forward facing position for two reasons. #1 It is not the ideal position for a baby’s hips. #2 Baby cannot escape from stimuli because baby cannot turn away to nuzzle into a caregiver.

 So what is an intelligent babywearing parent to do? We often teach that we should wear our babies in positions similar to how we hold them. Guess how all five of my kids have wanted to be held at about 3 months of age? Facing forward! We held our babies facing forward all day long because they cried, fussed, and turned if we tried to hold them in any of the traditional burp, nuzzle, or cradle positions. So I say go ahead and wear your baby facing out, but here is how to do it in the most comfortable way possible for you and your baby.

The best time to wear your baby facing out is from 3-6 months of age, depending on your child. As soon as possible I start training my children to be in the hip carry and once they are comfortable in the hip carry it replaces the forward facing carry. But that takes time and I never seem to have patient children. Also, as babies grow a back carry will become more comfortable for the caregiver and more interesting for the baby. But until those things occur the forward facing carry can be useful.  Keep in mind that a forward facing carry will be more uncomfortable for the parent because it pulls baby's center of gravity away from you.  This is not a carry you want to be your primary carry method.

As far as I can tell from all the information I have read, the concern for baby’s hips is limited and only relevant if baby is in a crotch dangling position for numerous hours each day. To avoid this, use a carrier that will cover your baby’s entire bottom and place him in a sitting position with his knees up, as if he was in a chair. This will give support to his hips. You also want to gently rotate baby’s hips so that he leans back into your chest. In this way baby will not be leaning forward and pulling on your back and shoulders, but comfortably angled back towards you.

Baby should not spend all day facing forward and it’s very unlikely that would ever happen. Babies need to be changed, eat, and sleep, which will put them in different positions. If your baby is facing forward remain in tune with your baby to be sure that baby is not over stimulated. Some common signs of overstimulation in babies include stiffening their body, turning their head away, flexing their limbs, or crying. If this or other signs of overstimulation occur turn your baby into a hip, back, or tummy to tummy position so that baby can choose to nuzzle with a caregiver and escape the stimulation. It is very likely that as a babywearer you are in tune with your child’s needs and this will happen intuitively.

Most carriers can be used forward facing so there is no need to buy a specific forward facing carrier. If you are not sure how to use your carriers in a forward facing position Babywearing International of DC-MD-VA would be glad to help.  If you want to find positions that also work for your baby besides forward facing, we can help with that too. Grab your carriers and run over to a babywearing meeting and we will show you just how to put your baby in a  position that will suit both of your needs and free your hands up for all those other parenting tasks that are calling your name. 

Posted by Carolyn

Editors note: I'll be honest, I hesitated to post this because I know it will cause controversy.  However, I will say, I don't personally encourage front facing carries, but I won't condemn those who do choose them.  My babies are heavy and it was always uncomfortable for me.  I also feared a baby who learned to face out struggling to turn around as I've seen with many parents who used a frontpack and come to our meetings once baby outgrows the frontpack.  So, I would say this carry should be a last resort and should be used sparingly.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Wearing Resistant Children

Sometimes a baby develops opinions, and sometimes those opinions are quite inconvenient for your plans.  My second daughter wanted to be held at all times, but the first carrier I tried, a stretchy wrap, which I was sure was going to be the answer to her neediness, was NOT her idea of a perfect solution.  Until she was 7mo old, I couldn't use a wrap with her even though I really WANTED to be a wrapper.  Her opinions made mine irrelevant.  After trying a variety of carriers, I found that she preferred the way a mei tai or soft structure carrier held her. 

This worked really well, and once she was content being worn and had gotten used to being carried and feeling safe worn, I was able to introduce wraps and ring slings.  Attending meets with BWI of DC-MD-VA made it possible for us to try a variety of carriers without having to purchase them all.  Meanwhile my third has been far less opinionated about which carriers she likes.  Although sometimes she chooses a specific carrier she wants us to use, she's a fan of the fishy wrap.

Another potential problem for a parent with an opinionated baby is that baby chooses a wearing position and doesn't want to abandon it.  My friend Lindsay's daughter decided that she liked being on her mom's front.  It was the better spot, period.  And yet, she would happily be worn on dad's back, or on babysitter's backs.  With a toddler, front carries can be difficult for longer outings because baby's head tends to be in your face, it is more difficult to see where you are going with a big kid in your way, and it can be less comfortable.  Lindsay was frustrated.  She was an experienced wearer on her second child.  Then one day we were out at the mall and she was trying to get her little one on her back, and suddenly her daughter pointed at me.  "You want to ride on her back?"  *nod*.  So, up she went on my back, while my daughter rode with Lindsay.  Flexibility and listening to the child helped find a solution to the problem.  Of course, then Lindsay was able to use, "want to ride like you do with Ann Marie?"  That got her over the back carry hump.  She also discovered that sometimes K would go along with a back carry in a wrap but not an SSC.  Once again, those opinions asserting themselves.

But even now, little K will come ask for a little ride with me.  We made a special bond during those months.  She's my little buddy now.  The important point though is that a child resisting a position on you doesn't mean they won't go along with it on the other parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, or friend.  It might become their special thing.  Listening to your child and trying to figure out what they are telling you is an important part of a successful babywearing relationship.  I know some would say you should force the child to do what you want.  And certainly there are times when that is just the only option, but I find that when you do try to accommodate your child's wants when you can, it makes it much easier to explain and get them to go along when you just need them to be on your back while you carry all of the supplies for summer vacation to the car.  We've all been there. 

If you are dealing with a reluctant wearee, come to one of our meetings to try out a variety of carriers and get help with the ones you have.  It's possible a minor tweak will help your child be happier in the carrier you have.  And happy wearing!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Wearing in the Water

Pools across the area opened this weekend, and mamas who gave birth during the previous year discovered that babies are really slippery in the pool.  If this is your second child, you discovered that holding the baby or getting the baby to sit in one of those boat things doesn't leave you the ability to hold/help your older child(ren) in the water.  What to do?  Avoid the pool all summer?  With the temps soaring over 90* this week, a summer without the pool sounds awful!  So, how do you take your kids to the pool without losing your mind?  We can help!

Water carriers can be an excellent way for mom and baby to enjoy the pool.  There is a wide variety of water carriers available on the market, so lets explore them:

Ring slings:
Nearly every sling maker has a water sling in the works this summer.  However, there are plenty of options around on the used market as well.  I love a ring sling for the water.  I find the weight on one shoulder isn't such an issue when the water is helping to buoy up the weight.  The easy of getting in and out is nice for slippery wet babies.  My older kids also like using the tail as a kickboard.  The tail can also make a nice sun shade when needed.
Fabrics are varied - solarveil is a popular choice from the past few years.  Unfortunately the fabric was discontinued and at this point these are only available on the used market.  This is very light and airy and offers the sun protection of about a t-shirt by the way it was woven.  Some describe the fabric as scratchy though.  Jeanne demonstrates:
Solarweave - This fabric has a UPF40 coating.  It is smoother and would remind you of men's swim trunks.
These can be found new from Kalea Baby through Zerberts or on the used market from Zanytoes and other vendors.

Mesh- This is the fabric that seems to be becoming quite popular for water slings.  Many vendors haven't quite gotten their fabric in yet.  TaylorMade has been using it for years though, so they have some in stock.
Don't Heather and her little one look happy?

For all around support which may be more important for parents with injuries, or who just need symetrical carries, a wrap can be a great water choice.  Water wraps can be DIYd by purchasing either bathing suit fabric or athletic mesh from the fabric store and hemming or surging the edges.  Water wraps can be purchased from Wrapsody Baby, or from a variety of WAHMs on Etsy.
This one was DIY'd by Pamm.
There are a few pouches made of a mesh that works well in the water, like this one:

But Angelique has hit on an ingenius solution.  She bought a cheap regular pouch from a consignment store.  She paid $3 for this Hotslings pouch and doesn't care if it gets faded or ruined in the water.
As you can see, there are many options for water wearing.  A couple safety notes... ALWAYS pay attention to where your little one's head is in relation to the water.  Sometimes while playing with an older child, you can get a little deeper than you mean to and a rogue wave can get in baby's mouth.  This doesn't take the place of closely monitoring your child, it just gives you free hands while you monitor your child.  Stay safe, and have a super fun summer.  Send us pics of your summer adventures while babywearing!

Finally, go "like" the International Babywearing Conference 2012 Facebook page.  We are in the process of planning for this major event next summer.  You want to be involved, it's going to be awesome! :)